Long term nursing care insurance

Asked December 16, 2013, 5:06 PM EST

What is ISU Extension & Outreach's opinion of purchasing long term care insurance? Pros? Cons?

Cherokee County Iowa insurance insurance literacy medicare

1 Response

We do not have an opinion but can share facts that can help you make your own decision.

Long Term Care Insurance:

  • Is very expensive
  • Is getting harder to find - some companies no longer offer it because of concerns of being able to pay future claims. Healthy people are living longer.
  • Protects assets - if you do not have assets, you probably don't need it.
  • Pays for things Medicare and regular health insurance does not pay for such as being able to choose where you receive extended care; many pay for home care, assisted living facilities, nursing home and hospice care. Some also pay for home modifications like refitting a bathroom or a doorway, purchase of durable medical equipment, caregiver training, home safety checks and medical alert devices.
  • Vary from policy to policy so you need to read carefully and make sure you are getting the coverage you want.
  • The younger you are when you purchase it, the lower the premiums but, you should consider life insurance and disability insurance first to protect your income.
Everybody's situation is going to be different. There is not one product that is going to be an answer for everyone.

Alternatives to Long Term Care Insurance:
  • Self-Insure - set aside a portion of your retirement savings or an asset to pay for your own long-term care. If in the end, it is not needed for Long Term Care, it can be passed on to heirs. You will need a lot of equity or savings and you risk leaving nothing to heirs.
  • Rely on Medicaid - No need to buy insurance or save. But, you will have to spend down all but $2000 of savings and limit income, though a healthy spouse can hang on to some assets and income to avoid poverty. Your choice of facilities is also limited.
  • Rely on family - it is less expensive and you might get better care. It is challenging on family members and you might not get better care.
  • Annuity with long-term care or accelerated benefits rider - There are no future rate increases but the benefits aren't inflation adjusted.
I hope this helps.